On Friday, U.S. stocks traded lower with a mixed report on December’s job report. The Labor Department reported that the nonfarm payrolls increased by 252,000 in December. This comes after a jump of three hundred and fifty three thousand in November. On the downside was the jobless rate which fell 0.2 percentage points down to a low of 5.6%. This decline came as a result of people leaving the work force and marked a six and a half year low. Interestingly, the average hourly earnings also decreased in December by 0.2%, or 5-cents, wiping away the gains in November. The increased payroll above 200,000 in December marks the 11th straight month of gains which is the longest stretch in the U.S. since 1994. In 2014, the U.S. economy generated 2.95 million new jobs. As a result of the data, the Nasdaq Composite index (COMP) declined by 0.68% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was also down 0.95%. Following the downward trend was the S&P 500 index (SPX) which declined 0.84%.
On Friday, the U.S. dollar (USD) traded higher against most major currencies, remaining at a 12-year high. This increase came in response to data released by the Labor Department which showed that the U.S. economy had added more jobs in December which boosted optimism regarding the growing economy. This report also came a day after data revealed that the U.S. private sector added 241,000 jobs in December while U.S. initial jobless claims fell to 294,000 last week, down by 4,000. As a result, the U.S. dollar index was down 0.35% at 92.23. The EUR/USD currency pair traded at 1.1833, up 0.34% yet still close to its 9-year low reached on Thursday of 1.1753. The euro remained under pressure after data released on Wednesday showed that the annual rate of inflation in the eurozone fell by 0.2 percent in December. This marked the first decline since October 2009. Meanwhile, the GBP/USD traded at 1.5159, up 0.46%. This came after the Office for National Statistics in the U.K. reported that manufacturing production rose 0.7% in November. This beat expectations for a 0.3 percent gain after dropping 0.7% in October.
On Sunday, Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p) reported that their global sales for December had increased by 2.7% to over eight hundred and eighty thousand sales across the company’s multi-brand group. This increase in sales was prompted by faster growth in Europe and China despite the falling sales in Latin America and the United States. The German VW group whose brands also include Porsche and Audi, increased their deliveries within the full year by 4.2%. This translated into 14 million autos being delivered which beat a company set target before its due date. The sales, which also included light commercial vans, passenger cars, heavy trucks etc., gained by 5.1% in Europe and by 12% in China. This outweighed the decline of 2% in the U.S. and the 20% decline in sales in Latin America over the same period. Today, Volkswagen is the second biggest car maker behind Toyota and is hoping to take the number one position by 2017. Volkswagen AG is currently trading at $177.45 per share.
It seems that oil prices have not been able to catch a break and on Monday, the prices of crude oil plunged in Asian trading. This came in response to concerns regarding the global supply glut as well as weak demand. Crude oil for February delivery traded at $47.41 a barrel, down 1.35% on the NYMEX while Brent oil for delivery in February hit a session low of $48.90 on Friday on the ICE Futures Exchange in London. According to Baker Hughes, an industry research group, the number of rigs drilling in the U.S. for oil had declined to 1,421 last week, down by 61. This marked the largest drop since the beginning of 1991.